Saturday, November 27, 2010


It turned out to be an interesting Thanksgiving.  The meal was pretty darned complicated, and at one point, involved slicing about a million shallots.  Me being an impetuous, hasty sort of guy, I ended up cleanly slicing off a sliver of my thumb.  This was done with a mandoline, a device that seems do be explicitly designed to cause kitchen injuries, as it involves repeatedly passing your fingers over a very sharp blade.*  It was a small piece, but still large enough that I very quickly realized it was going to require an emergency room visit. 

Since I had guests coming over in a few hours, and a partially cooked turkey in the oven, I knew there was no way I could just dash off to the hospital, so using some heavy cotton pads and medical tape, I bound it the best I could and wore a latex glove to keep blood from dripping.  With my wife's help, I was able to complete dinner without major incident.  After everyone had left that evening, I rushed over the ER where they were able to stop the bleeding. 

My thumb is currently all bandaged up, making it difficult to do things like button a shirt or move a mouse, and completely impossible to press buttons on a controller.   So this means I'll be trying to play Adventures of Bayou Billy with my index finger.  Great.

In the meantime, Episode 34 is pretty close to completion, so you should see it in a few days.

*The doctor even described it as a "pretty typical mandoline injury."  Its nice to know I'm not the only one.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Begun, the Famicom Wars Have.

First of all, let me categorically state that Chrontendo Episode 34 isn't going to - in any way, shape, or form - be ready before Thanksgiving.  It's getting there, but yesterday was my birthday, today = shopping, tomorrow = cooking and cleaning, and Thursday = Thanksgiving.  For all you foreign types out there, Thanksgiving is a made up holiday that Americans celebrate because Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of State, William Seward, thought it would help cheer up the populace during the Civil War.  It involves eating a lot of food and it officially kicks off the Christmas Season.  Though it's not uncommon for retailers to get a head start and kick off Christmas in mid-November, prompting many people to complain that "They start Christmas earlier and earlier each year."

For some reason, yesterday I found myself watching a few moments of a TV hosted by that mildly autistic-looking nonentity Jimmy Kimmel*, who felt the need to build a monologue around the "Christmas in November" phenomenon.  Astonishingly, he found this an amusing and original enough observation to make on national TV, despite the fact that people have bitching about it nonstop since at least the 1940s.  I suppose that if this fellow is still around in 30 years we can look forward to him wondering "Why do they call it 'Final' Fantasy?" and "Why does Starbucks call it a 'tall' when it's their smallest size?"  It's amazing who they let on TV nowadays.

Anyway, when you finally do get to see the new Chrontendo, you will be excited and thrilled to learn that Nintendo has finally decided to give the military tactics game genre a whirl! Yep, after some not quite spectacular entries in the genre: Neunzehn, Tank Commander, SD Gundam, etc, Nintendo steps in and kicks ass!  Famicom Wars is interesting for a few reasons.  Just like Famicom Mukashi Banashi, it shows Nintendo trying their hand at something other than the Mario/Zelda/Sports games that they specialized in.  Also, it was released on a regular old cartridge, whereas virtually every new Japanese Nintendo game since 1986 has been on the Famicom Disk System (Punch-Out!! being a rare exception).   Additionally,  Famicom Wars launched a new and fruitful Nintendo franchise, as sequels appeared on the GameBoy, Super Famicom, GBA, and DS.

Famicom Wars is recognizably superior to its predecessors; it's the first perfectly formed military simulation for a console.  Maps are plentiful (15 in all), and each offers unique challenges.   There are tons of different types of units: infantry, tanks, artillery, transports, supply trucks, bombers, helicopters, jet fighters, anti-aircraft guns, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.   The interface is pretty easy to use, there are two different music options, three difficulty options, individual battles are quick and to the point, battle animations can be turned off, and the opening title sequence is extremely cool.  It's like Nintendo listened to all my complaints about earlier Famicom military games and fixed all the problems. There's even an unofficial English translation!


Even more amazing: this is the first military type that I haven't compared negatively to Military Madness!  So check it out!  Or even better, try the superior sequel for the GBA, Advance Wars.  My lord, what genre will Nintendo try next?  An RPG?

Keep an eye out for Episode 34 in a few days.  My apologies if this post is a little bit incoherent.  Tonight's beverage was Stone's Double Bastard Ale, which, after consuming, I realized has an ABV of 11.2%.

In case anyone is curious, here is the Thanksgiving menu.  It was adapted from Thomas Keller.  Yes, I'm a geek and I print up a little menu each year and place copies on the table.

*Or possibly Down's Syndrome. I can't decide.  The guy definitely looks a little weird.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Oh Hai. There's a New Video on Youtoobes!

The first official "between episodes" video.  It's just a quick little peek at Legendary Wings that I whipped up in about 10 minutes.  It focuses on the painfully disappointing final boss, so... spoiler alert!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Moment of Reflection

It's been a busy week.  Aren't they all?  What can I say? It's pumpkin season.  I've noticed that the standard, low-end grocery stores (around here, that would be the ubiquitous Safeway) tend to dispose of their stock of pumpkins a couple days after Halloween.  Whereas your more hippie-fied, healthy grocery stores -- you know, the kind that carry hemp ice cream and an unusual amount of gluten-free products -- will keep a good supply of pumpkins on hand until Thanksgiving or later.

Having just made a pumpkin pie and finding myself with a bit of leftover pulp, my thoughts naturally turned to that annual revenue generator for Starbucks, the Pumpkin Spice Latte.  Now, I don't really need to frequent Starbucks.  There are already a sufficient number of coffee shops in my town that can actually produce good coffee.  But the thought of a steady supply of $4.50 beverages made on the cheap was too irresistible to, uh... resist.  It turns out to not be that difficult: equal parts sugar and water, mixed with a bit of pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg produces a nice pumpkin syrup.  The result: throw in some espresso and steamed milk and it's quite drinkable and cheap as heck.

Throw it all together and simmer for a few minutes. Don't forget to strain it through a cheesecloth.

I also tried my hand at making some lox. Or to be precise, gravlax -- Finnish cured salmon.  But I don't plan on turning Chrontendo into a cooking blog, so suffice to say it's pretty simple to make if you have the patience.

And yet, Thanksgiving is just around the corner. What this means for me is endless rounds of shopping, food preparation, cursing because I can't find some particular ingredient, and finally, cooking.  I hope to have Chrontendo Episode 34 done before then, but can promise nothing.  I really would like to step up the production a little bit, maybe by making episodes a little bit shorter.  I also will be posting previews of upcoming episodes on Youtube from time to time, as well as possibly some miscellaneous videos.  I suspect a little something about Capcom's shoot-em-up Legendary Wings will appear before too long.  If you are interested in such things, I guess either subscribe to Chrontendo Youtube channel or just check back occasionally.

On a completely unrelated note, a chat with Pre-Sonic Genesis blogger CJ Lowery the other day made me wonder what the most manly types of alcohol are.  A definitive ranking would be difficult to compile, but after a bit of reflection I assume it looks something like this, in order from "manliest" to "least manly."

Irish Whisky/Scotch
"Real" Rum
Tequilla (straight)
Red Wine
White Wine
Flavored/White Rum
Tequilla cocktails
Red Bull or Jaegermeister based cocktails
Flavored Vodka
Rosé/Blush Wine
"Hard" Lemonades and such
Wine Coolers, spritzers and other travesties.

Theoretically, the most and least manly forms of alcohol.

Obviously, some things have been left out.  Where does Grappa fit in this list?  What about Schnapps?  Absinthe?*  Surely I've forgotten some important drinks in this?

Also, while checking traffic sources, I notices this thread at NeoGaf.  Someone was looking for a complete chronological list of Famicom/NES titles.  I've never seen such a thing online myself, but Chrontendo is partly based on the "Chronological List of Famicom Games" originally found on Wikipedia.  That particular entry has since been deleted, in favor of a non-chronological list.  Also, Nintendo has some PDF files available of US releases, but they do not provide an release exact date, just month and year.  My own list sort of merges the two together, removes the duplicate entries, and adds in some Europe only releases and a few unlicensed titles.

In case anyone needs this information or plans to play along, I've included a link to the official Chrontendo game list in spreadsheet format under "Chrontendo Links."   You should be able to save it an Excel file or some similar format.  Be aware that whoever compiled the Wikipedia list transcribed Japanese game titles in a way that doesn't always match up to other sources such as Gamefaqs, or the names on ROM dumps.  The notes in the rightmost column are from the original Wikipedia editor and I can't guarantee their accuracy.

*This is a difficult call. I read an interview with Marilyn Manson once in which it was noted Mr. Manson was sipping some absinthe.  This indicates it's probably not very manly.  On the other hand, absinthe is used in the Sazerac cocktail, which is tough as hell.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Now Some Real Content

So it's finally happened. Dr. Sparkle has got a video on the darned Youtube.  And its not even a video of my cat falling off a window ledge or anything; it's an official Chrontendo video.  To make matters even stranger, the video is one of those video game list thingies that are clogging up the internet.  It was too long for one video, so it was into two parts, the second being here.

For the moment, the Ten Worst NES/Famicom Games of 1983-1987 is a Youtube exclusive.   What's the reasoning behind making a video based around such a tired, overused concept?  There are tons of such lists, perhaps this one is the most famous, but the thing is they're all by people who have not played every single game for the NES.  Therefore, the authors of these lists cannot be sure that they've really played the worst the system has to offer (they haven't, based on the lists I've seen.)  With Chrontendo, no such uncertainty exists. 


The worst NES game ever? HA!

So why did 18 minutes of video take so long to produce?  Sorry, but the last few weeks have been a bit busy, with a wedding, a funeral, a couple emergency room visits (father-in-law related), taking my mother-in-law to numerous doctor appointments, getting a leak in the roof fixed, and a whole lot of other things I've already forgotten.

A few other things I'll mention while I'm at it.  I've added another chronogaming blog to the links: CRPG Addict.  This guy makes me look unfocused and lazy by comparison.  His project is to play every Western PC RPG ever released, which sounds bad enough as it is.  But he's actually attempting to finish (or at least make a sincere effort to finish) each game, without using cheats or walkthroughs!   I admire his dedication, even though I could never attempt to replicate his methodology -- me being a walkthrough/cheat code/save state hacking sort of guy when it comes to RPGs on Chrontendo.  Anyway, his very throrough and thoughtfully written posts are definitely worth reading through.

Also quite interesting:  A Japanese literature and culture themed blog called No-Sword provided some clarification on a few things mentioned in Chrotendo Episode 2.  Namely the fact that in Devil World the giant-eyeball based monsters become fried eggs after being roasted by your fiery breath.  It seems that in Japanese, fried eggs are called medama-yaki, or "fried eyeballs," so it's a cute little pun.  This makes perfect sense, and the similarity of eyes to eggs has been noted in Western culture as well.  Georges Batailles' Story of the Eye springs to mind.*

Please tell me this is not fried eggs sold in a bag.

 No-Sword's author also states that, Wikipedia to the contrary, there is no Japanese folk hero called Paku, thus ruling out one theory on the origin of Pac-Man's name.   He even gives mention to my facetious remark to Clu Clu Land possibly being tied to Kuru, the neurological disease spread through human brains.  My suggestion shoudn't be taken seriously, however.  It's just that I'm fascinated by horrible brain diseases and cannibalism.

So enjoy the Youtube videos.  Preferably, I'll think of addtional things to put up on Youtube in the future.  Any ideas?

*I hope that a reference to this book doesn't lead anyone to believe that I'm: a) some sort of leather chaps-wearing pervert, or b) a clove smoking, Deleuze-quoting, pretentious douchebag.  Seriously.  Some disturbing news for Georges Bataille fans, however: I once read an interview with Dave Matthews, and he claims to be a big fan of Story of the Eye.  I guess it doesn't seem so outré now, does it?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Another Quick Update!

First of all, congrats to the SF Giants!  Score one for the old guys.  If I'm up for it, I might be doing a bit of rioting in the streets tonight.

Also, I'm really, really, ready for the 2010 elections to be over.  I'm at the point where I'm ready to unplug my landline due to the never ending onslaught of political robocalls.  Political races often get nasty, but I'm getting really disheartened by the sheer unpleasantness of this year's campaigns.  Here in Cali we've got a pretty weird gubernatorial election going on between a billionaire who talks like a 16 year old and a "hippie-fascist."  It looks like Jerry Brown will be elected, so we'll finally get to see those "suede denim secret police" we've been waiting so many years for.


What?!?  That car is still around?

Finally, hello out there to all the folks from Metafilter.  Thanks to JHarris for posting a very nice link to each Chrontendo episode.  I see you guys have been pouring in in droves.  Welcome to Chrontendo and I hope you like the videos.  Also,  I've seen some traffic coming in from a post on the excellent retrogaming site Racketboy.   I don't know why I've never linked to Racketboy, but their profiles on classic consoles and genres are invaluable, so check it out if you're not familar with them.  Man, with all this attention from the internet at large, hopefully ED won't discover me next.

Which reminds me of  JHarris' chron-comics project, Roasted Peanuts, which takes a chronological look at the "most interesting" strips from the greatest comic strip of the last 60 years.  The guy also likes MST3K, so you know he's cool.

Well, the Stone Imperial IPA is kicking in, so I'm out of here.  Once again: a real update in a day or two.